A settlement is possible

A settlement is possible

Can there be a comprehensive resolution to the disputes between Greece and Turkey? Eight prime ministers have attempted to find one, with varying degrees of effort, since 1975. One or two came close but fell short of success. History would discourage even the most optimistic. 

However, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has taken on the challenge that has remained elusive until now. For the first time in many years, direct talks on all issues have commenced at a very high level. Ankara has placed all the issues on the table. At some point, it will become apparent if there is room for an agreement. Since the discussion/negotiation is taking place openly and at such a high level, led by the highly experienced deputy minister from the Greek side, there is no room for procrastination. At some point, rather than engaging in another round of exploratory contacts, Mitsotakis and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will determine whether common ground exists or not. Athens anticipates this to happen toward the end of the year.

Until then, there will be meetings, agreements on civil protection issues, and so on. Both sides have committed to refraining from making statements or taking actions that could disrupt the positive atmosphere. Meanwhile, Turkey aims to secure the approval of the US Congress for the modernization of its F-16 fighter jets and the purchase of new ones. Greece, on the other hand, seeks to avoid being in a constant state of alert under the threat of another crisis in the Aegean.

Should Mitsotakis and Erdogan reach an agreement on a formula to resolve bilateral differences, the primary challenges will be internal for both leaders. The Greek premier will need to convince a highly skeptical public opinion and his New Democracy party. Erdogan, on the other hand, will face criticism for not “reclaiming” the numerous islands that the opposition accuses him of having relinquished.

If they fail to reach an agreement, the future remains uncertain. Athens believes in a Plan B, a framework for cooperation and tension reduction without necessarily resolving the core issues. However, it remains uncertain whether Turkey will accept this or attempt to reach an agreement under the pressure of causing some type of crisis. For now, the red carpet has been rolled out, and there is calm in the Aegean. Considering where we were three years ago, this may be seen as a positive development, at least for now. 

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